Perfectly Paired Dinner at Charleston Grill and a recipe for Olive Oil Ice Cream

Please welcome Mr. Bunkycooks (my husband Roger) for another guest post.  We recently attended a Perfectly Paired Dinner at the Charleston Grill at Charleston Place Hotel in South Carolina.  This dinner was one of the many special events that took place during the Charleston Wine and Food Festival March 1-4, 2012.  Since Mr. B has been a wine collector for many, many years and is, as he says, a “self-proclaimed connoisseur of wine”, I thought he would be the best person to write about this dinner.

Many of us enjoy a glass of wine (or two) in the evenings, whether by itself, with an appetizer or when paired with a meal.  Wines have their own unique character when we drink them by themselves and the flavors can become quite different when paired with food.  Many people know the basics of pairing certain wine grapes with certain foods, however it takes real skill to find the perfect match that complements both the wine and the food to make them equally extraordinary. 

Please enjoy this article as Mr. B takes us through his personal experience with the food and wine pairings from our Perfectly Paired Dinner at Charleston Grill.

On March 2nd we had the pleasure of participating in a Charleston Wine and Food Festival dinner at the Charleston Grill located in the Charleston Place Hotel.  The food was delightful, the ambiance perfect and the service was impeccable, as always.  With General Manager Mickey Bakst coordinating the dinner, you can always be assured that the evening will be perfect.  What made this dinner so memorable was the pairing of the carefully selected wines with the food that was lovingly prepared by Chef Michelle Weaver, Pastry Chef Emily Cookson and two guest chefs.

We all know that certain wines are obvious food partners.  Beef dishes are complimented by Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.  Shellfish pairs well with the minerality of a Chablis and poultry with Burgundy or a lightly oaked French Chardonnay.  These wines certainly enhance the dining experience, but every once in a while, through planning or serendipity, you pair a certain wine with a certain dish and the combination is explosive.

Charleston Grill’s General Manager, Mickey Bakst

That is what happened when wine importer Bartholomew Broadbent of Broadbent Selections brought some of his wines sourced from around the world to the Wine and Food Festival Perfectly Paired Dinner at Charleston Grill.

Bartholomew Broadbent and Rick Rubel (Sommelier at Charleston Grill) worked together to pair the wines for this dinner.  This evening we sampled his 2009 A.A. Badenhorst “White Blend” (Coastal Region) with the first course of Buttered Brown Rice and Florida Rock Shrimp from guest Chef Gabrielle Hamilton.  The white wine blend flowed well with the buttery sauce which included mushrooms and duck cracklings.

We then sampled the Quinto do Crasto “Superior” (Douro) 2009, a complex blend of grapes, with a chicken dish prepared by guest Chef Trevor Kunk.  Honestly, the Douro was too rich and complex and fruit forward to pair with the clean lines of the chicken with lardo.  We knew that both the food and the wine were outstanding in their own right, but diminished the experience when served together.

Perfectly Paired Wine Dinner in the Vintner’s Room

Then came the surprise of the night.  Rick Ruben and Bartholomew Broadbent chose Château Musar from the Bekaa Valley, 2001.  For those interested in history, Bekaa Valley is a high altitude region of Lebanon, outside Beirut .  Yes, Lebanon.  Many people may not know this but Lebanon is the birthplace of wine.  The first wines in the world were produced in Lebanon over 4000 years ago.  Bartholomew shared some of the history of the region and the grapes that are grown there today.

Château Musar

We sipped the wine and our reaction was mixed.  It was something like a Bordeaux and yet, similar to a Burgundy.  It had a chalkiness from the soil it was grown in and a nose of young, fresh red fruit with the oak from the French barrels it was aged in.  The wines tannins were smooth and the acids vibrant making it lighter in style and not jammy in taste.  To me, this was a very “odd” wine.  It reminded me of a Bordeaux blend grown in the soil of Lebanon and its structure said “drink me now” because there were insufficient tannins to carry it through a long cellaring. By itself I did not like this wine.

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